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Covington woman looking for the right doctor to treat rare form of cancer

COVINGTON -- Evelyn Bennett is a beautiful wife and mother of two young daughters, ages 5 and 7, who has a rare form of cancer with even rarer complications. So far, doctors have told her there's nothing they can do for her, but she's had doctors tell her there's no help before and the Great Physician stepped in and proved them wrong. She's hoping for another miracle.

"They told me it would be medically impossible for me to have kids ... (but) God blessed me with two beautiful girls who were born in perfect health and I had no complications whatsoever," she said. "So I know God has a plan for my life that surpasses all understanding. Why I was chosen to take this journey in life, I don't know and I don't care because God is in control and has a plan."

Bennett is hoping that part of that plan is for her to seek medical care at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but she needs financial resources to make the trip. Those who know the family are passing the word along and funds are beginning to come in.

Members of Friendship Lodge #20, where Bennett's husband Alex Bennett is the Worship Master, are collecting funds and Past Master of the lodge Covington resident Archie Shepherd asked him to read a letter from his wife to the congregation at Bethlehem Baptist Church recently. The results were gratifying.

"He read the letter in church and there wasn't a dry eye in the church," he said. "We raised $1,200 that day to help them out."

Bennett has been diagnosed with a form of gastrointestinal cancer.

"It is a very rare cancer and is normally found in older white folks in their 70s or older, so when I was diagnosed at 42 in August of 2010, they were shocked," she said. "This cancer does not show itself until it's stage 4 and by then it has spread all through my body."

Bennett also has cancer in both lobes of her liver and lymph nodes. At the time she was diagnosed, they also found a mass in her colon which turned out to be benign. It was removed and that surgery has limited her treatment options now.

"My largest tumor is in my intestine and it has entwined itself in my blood vessels and it is squeezing my intestines, cutting off the blood supply," she said, adding that the result is severe pain and chronic diarrhea, which, in turn, has caused rapid weight loss.

Although the cancer is very slow-growing -- estimates are that Bennett may have had it for 15 years before it was discovered -- the complications are making treatment difficult.

"That is why I need surgery to either remove the tumor or bypass the tumor to reconnect my intestines," she said. "All my doctors here told me there is not a doctor in Georgia who would risk any surgery on me due to the fact that my organs would shut down or I would bleed to death."

After hearing that prognosis, Bennett travelled to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., where she was told that removing the tumor is impossible because of its location (entwined with the main artery that runs through the stomach) and built up scar tissue from the colon resection to remove the mass earlier.

"They also told me that bypassing the tumor was also not an option because they don't think I have enough good intestines to do it," she said.

But Bennett has vowed to fight because she believes there's somebody out there who would be willing to help her.

"I believe God has special people in place for certain things," she said. "I think he has doctors in place to do things that other doctors deem impossible. There's doctors out there willing to take the chance and take the time to do the research and help you. Giving up is not an option for me."

Those wishing to make a donation toward helping Bennett in her quest to find the treatment she needs can do so through a fund that has been set up in her name -- Evelyn Bennett -- at any SunTrust Bank location. Funds can also be accepted through the mail in care of SunTrust, 1530 Ga. Highway 138, Conyers, GA 30013.

For more information, call Archie Shepherd at 404-358-3383.